Daily Management Review

Japan's NEC Launches A Face Recognition Tech That Can Identify Even With A Mask


Japan's NEC Launches A Face Recognition Tech That Can Identify Even With A Mask
A facial recognition system that has the capability to identify people even if they are wearing masks has been launched by Japan’s NEC Corp. this new technological innovation is a sign that technology too is being adapted to cater to the new normal in which face coverings and masks have become a critical way of remaining protected from getting infected by the novel coronavirus induced Covid-19 and effectively reduce the spread of the disease.
The Japanese company had already been engaged in work for development of a face recognition technology for meeting the needs of allergy sufferers who are advised to wear masks and the health crisis only prompted the firm to accelerate its efforts.
“Needs grew even more due to the coronavirus situation as the state of emergency (last year) was continuing for a long time, and so we’ve now introduced this technology to the market,” Shinya Takashima, assistant manager of NEC’s digital platform division, said.
The new innovation is able to identify and recognize that a person is wearing a mask and then it focuses on those parts of the face that are still not covered up, such as the eyes and surrounding areas, and uses the information to verify the identity of the individuals. Users however have to have a complete photo of their face without a mask in advance in order to use this new innovation.
The new technology takes less than a second to verify the face and it has an accuracy of more than 99.9 per cent, the NEC claimed in a statement.
Security gates in office buildings and other facilities can make extensive use of this new system. The newly developed technology is being put on trial by NEC for a system of automated payments at an unmanned convenience store in its Tokyo headquarters.
The Japanese firm did not disclose the price of the new system. But the company has set a target of achieving ¥100 billion ($970 million) in sales in fiscal 2021 for its biometrics and video analysis business, which includes its facial technology systems.
Takashima said that the company had started to sell the product to business clients in October and its customer list includes the likes of include Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines. Takashima added that facial recognition means not having to produce a security card as such cards may get stolen or lost while also helping to prevent the spread of germs among people form touching infected surfaces.
“Touchless verification has become extremely important due to the impact of the coronavirus,” he said. “Going forward we hope to contribute to safety and peace of mind by strengthening (efforts) in that area.”